pictures, characters, names

Yesterday, I shared my struggle with my fiction writing over the last two years. This draining of creative energy, falling apart of my personal life, rebuilding a new life. There have been months of ebb and flow, a tearing away of the old. I dismantled how I had lived my life; I inspected the pieces, I let go of what no longer served me. I began to build something new with what was left and welcomed new pieces and dreams into my space. All of this happened internally and externally. I’ve rearranged the space I live in more than once. I’ve journaled, read, processed verbally. In addition to this work, I’ve helped carry four boys through transitions, pandemics, at-home schooling, isolation. I still go back to Gilbert saying, “I can either live a drama or write a drama.” what true words! What a drama the collective world has lived for over a year. I say all of this to acknowledge what we, the world, have gone through and let myself release the angst of not producing all those books I am sure are locked away inside myself. I’ve kept myself and others alive and safe, and that should be enough.

I wrote my blog yesterday, felt my angst, and tried my hardest to push past it all. One of the many ways I gather inspiration for my stories is by searching Pinterest for images, thoughts, and things that evoke a certain feeling. I gather them, dropping them into a new board, and later I go and sort through it. Eventually, I’ll make individual character boards or sections, scene boards, inspiration… whatever it is I decide I need for that particular story. Dandelion alone has 20 boards, each character has a printed binder, and of course notebooks of notes, binders of printed pages… You get the idea. I finished the blog and went straight to Pinterest. I began looking at portraits. I was hoping for someone, anyone, to grab my attention and say, “Hey! Pick me! I’ve got stuff to tell you.” This girl jumped out at me. I can picture her sitting outside, in an orchard, a cat purring in her lap… She told me her name was Winnie.

Winnie hasn’t told me a lot yet. I’m trying to be OK with that. My higher thinking writer’s brain needs to calm down. I’m trying to whisper to my brain and tell her it’ll come, trust the process. She’s not fully listening to me yet. I think Winnie is on to something, though. I think she’s probably shy, waiting to see if I’ll stick around and let her talk. She may not trust me the way Dandelion did, full force, stories to tell, people to show me, an entire world immediately in my mind. Winnie might take longer. I can be OK with that. I can sit with her in the simple, quiet life and learn what her stories are. I don’t think they’ll feel as bold as Dandelion’s. We aren’t all Dani’s, after all. Some of us live in simplicity; that doesn’t mean we haven’t lived, that we don’t have tales to tell.

Winnie has told me she has a brother, older, a mother who gardens a lot. There are orchards where she lives, I’m not sure if she works or lives in one, but they are part of the story. Her companion is a cat. That’s what she’s shared with me since yesterday. It may feel like nothing, but I know, I know there’s something there with each of those pieces. I have to wait and listen, keep my hands open, see what comes. I’m not sure if her story is short, lengthy, hard, or soft. She knows, and I trust her. I’m excited to learn more from her and about her.

It’s interesting to me how creativity works. You can feel drained and shut down one day, and the next, it bubbles up again. A seemingly simple conversation with my best friend shifted a lot in me. I followed her lead and went searching for a character, and Winnie showed up. She also gave me some interesting feedback on my WIP that changed my entire perspective on the story in the last 18 or so hours. I went from being unaware and stuck as to where to go with it to realizing what the glaring problem with the story is. After 4 years of on again off again work on it, I now know what is missing and how to turn it around. Perspective. Creativity needs new, different, unique, and simple, simple, simple perspective changes. I’m grateful to have friends and family who can offer insight and move me forward.

I’m hopeful to blog again on Tuesday about where I am with Winnie and/or my WIP. Trusting the process, doubting myself, second-guessing my choices will perhaps be a forever struggle of mine. I’m sure you have your own forever struggles and can relate. What I am learning is to keep showing up, pushing, trying, listening. Mental health and creativity are very much alike. The demons show up and torment you, but there is always something to make it worth it and joyful on the other side if you push past them. I don’t want to live a tortured artist life; I want to live a joyful, creative existence. Perhaps that’s what Flourishing will look like for me this year.